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Charlie's Angels reviews praise Kristen Stewart & entertaining reboot's feminist turn
Charlie’s Angels have struck again. The super-spies are back in action thanks to writer/director/star Elizabeth Banks and her gaggle of new heroines (including Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska), after amping up fans thanks to some killer trailers and a mission to recenter its retelling on its female spies. Now critics have gotten to check out the high-tech film — and their reactions seem to confirm the hype that the light action-comedy is female-fronted fun.
But don’t take our word for it. We’ll let the critics discuss the Townsend Agency, its Bosley, and its Angels at their new destination after multiple trips to the big screen after making their humble television debut.
The Hollywood Reporter's Beandrea July focuses mostly on the reboot’s ability to kickstart a new franchise, though still noting that the film doesn’t skimp on the action, with a final sequence “expertly choreographed and executed with ballet-like precision.” The rest of the review focuses on the film’s feminist bent told through the inclusion of actualized women as well as “on-the-nose dialogue.” Ultimately this seemingly mixed review settles on a verdict that the new Angels take part in a “wildly entertaining action flick.”
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman was more unambiguously taken with the film, explaining that the movie “crossbreeds the relentlessness of a Bourne thriller with the tossed-off trickiness of a Mission: Impossible caper.” In fact, this tonal balance is so well managed — with leads that “ooze personality without resorting to quirks”—that it seems like Banks has been ”making cheeky renegade action films all her life.” While the film is a bit too much and too long for his liking, it’s still a new spin on Charlie’s Angels that works like gangbusters. Or, as Gleiberman puts it, it becomes a “thriller that Jason Statham would feel right at home in.” Awesome.
At The Guardian, Benjamin Lee was less enamored, though he admits the film was “slightly better than expected.” Also commenting on the film’s move for the franchise toward feminism and away from a “rather leery male gaze,” Lee is all for the decision ... though he writes that it was executed shoddily, first by “a clumsy, cheap-looking montage of random girls and young women before the film’s title, which feels more like a deodorant ad than the start of a mainstream movie,” then with a “bond between the three angels [that] feels baseless and lacking in texture.”
Michael Phillips, of the Chicago Tribune, explains that the relative lightness and disposability of the film is one of its greatest strengths, calling the movie “fairly entertaining globe-trotting nonsense for what it is.” Praising Stewart’s performance, Phillips writes that she “makes a private party out of every scrap of comic relief she’s given,” though the rest of the film is simply passable. “But Stewart and company have their fun, and we have a reasonable percentage of theirs.”
Finally, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich praised the “slick and super charismatic” reboot for its savvy takedown of male prejudice over the course of the “lush, funny, and sometimes lethal action-comedy.” Echoing sentiments about Stewart, Ehrlich was also won over by the star’s comic turn, while also giving Balinska props for her “note-perfect” performance. While he was more critical of the film’s quicker-moving parts (“the fisticuffs are framed too tightly and the fights can be edited to the point of abstraction”), it all goes to serve “a kick-ass action movie that also happens to be funny.”
Charlie’s Angels hits theaters on Nov. 15.